The council had its first look at an ordinance drafted by city staff that would regulate pain management clinics during its work session on Monday night .
Community Development Director Brantley Day, who said he was "very proud" to present the draft ordinance to the council, said the city's goal is to curb an "epidemic" that's taking the country by storm.
Pill mills are sprouting up all across the country, and the south Florida area has been especially hit hard by the shops.
Unlike legitimate pain management clinics, pill mills, instead of writing prescriptions for patients, allow people to choose which drugs they want.
Patients often pay in cash for the medication, which includes heavy duty painkillers such as OxyContin.
Day noted the city is not trying to make the application process any more difficult for legitimate business interested in operating in Holly Springs.
"We don't want to make their lives harder," he said.
The council could hear the first reading as soon as its March 21 meeting. The city of Woodstock is also drafting an ordinance to regulate the clinics.
The proposed Holly Springs ordinance distinguishes between a pain management clinic, a pharmacy and medical establishment.
Those wishing to operate a medical establishment, pain management clinic or pharmacy in the city will be required to complete a questionnaire.
The questions will require the applicant to provide details of the services that will be offered, methods of evaluating, treating and rehabilitation of pain, what percentage of the practice will be devoted to pain management, if they intend to prescribe and dispense Schedule II, III or IV drugs and if they plan to accept health insurance from patients.
Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine, morphine and opium, have a strong potential for abuse, but have legitimate medical uses, according to Lt. Jay Baker, public information officer with the Cherokee Sheriff's Office.
Schedule III or IV drugs have less potential for abuse and addiction and are considered medically useful. Schedule III drugs include barbiturates and amphetamines while Schedule IV drugs include diazepam and chloral hydrate.
Day, along with Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball and the city manager, will review each applicants' questionnaires to determine if each business will be classified as a pain management clinic, pharmacy or medical establishment.
A pharmacy, according to the ordinance, should operate under a state-licensed pharmacist and is not authorized to prescribe and dispense Schedule II, III or IV drugs.
A medical establishment should be licensed by the state of Georgia and if it proposes to dispense schedule II, III or IV drugs, the drugs should be dispensed only by a dispensing physician.
If a business is classified as a pain management clinic, the owners are required to obtain a pain clinic license from the city.
The owners, physicians and any managers at the pain management clinic must be licensed physicians.
All owners and staff physicians are required to be certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology or the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The dispensing of Schedule II, III and IV drugs should only be dispensed by a licensed pharmacists, and if the clinic will have a pharmacy on site, it must be licensed separately from the clinic. The owner and clinic manager also are required to maintain separate offices in the facility.
If an application is denied, the owners of the clinic or pharmacy will have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the council.
Ball said he's talked about the city's proposed ordinance with people in the local medical community, and the "legitimate medical doctors" support the city's ordinance.
Those who are reluctant, he said, are "the ones we don't want in this city."
Mayor Tim Downing reemphasized Day's comments about not making the application process harder for the city, but added the city is determined to keep pill mills out.
Addiction to pain medication, he said, is the fastest-growing addition in the country.
Councilman Kyle Whitaker said he's in favor of the ordinance as it will help keep the epidemic of pill mills out of the city limits.
Councilwoman Dee Phillips said the ordinance is needed. Ms. Phillips, a nurse, noted the abuse of pain medication is on the rise and is becoming more widespread.
"I'm sure every city will have to address it at some point," she said.